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CourseTalk in Colombia: The little things help me better understand MOOC use

Online learning companies, like this one in Salento, are far less common in Colombia than in the U.S.

Online learning companies, like this one in Salento, are far less common in Colombia than in the U.S.

This spring, CourseTalk released a study that shed light on online learning in Colombia and other developing countries. It found that, while awareness of MOOCs remains low in these countries, students who are learning online there tend to receive certification at very high rates. It also found that few students are learning just for fun. After nearly two months teaching English in Colombia, I’m starting to understand the underlying factors that may be causing these trends.

I live in a city of 500,000 in Colombia’s coffee region, and so far I’ve met only one person who reported taking a MOOC. I’ve sensed a few cultural idiosyncrasies that I suspect play a role in the country’s low MOOC usage and high certification rates. Of course, I am only one person in one city in the third most populous country in Latin America, so if your experience of learning in Colombia has differed, please share!

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CourseTalk in Colombia: Learning the ropes

Imagine a classroom of three dozen 7-year-olds. Now imagine them speaking a mile a minute in a language you only partially understand. Add in the fact that they’re dashing to you from their seats every few seconds to hand you candy and tell you about their relatives who live in the U.S. Plus, the classroom’s windows and doors are all open while another class plays right outside. Welcome to the world of teaching English in a Colombian elementary school! Every day is a mix of excitement and chaos, progress and frustration, fun and hard work.

Learning the ropes

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CourseTalk in Colombia: First week of class

Colombia Primary School
Greetings from Colombia! I’ve been in the country for three weeks now and officially have one full week of teaching under my belt. The big surprise is that I’m not teaching high school as expected; instead, I’m the first teacher with Colombia’s bilingualism program to work in a primary school! (They were right when they warned me that Colombia is all about staying flexible.) Even though I miss my colleagues at CourseTalk, I’m very excited about this opportunity to impact Colombia’s youngest learners and expand a program that’s a huge priority for the Ministry of Education.

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New series: CourseTalk in Colombia

Just a few weeks ago, I was at CourseTalk’s Silicon Valley headquarters communicating with users and spreading the word about the largest source for online-course reviews. Next week, I’ll be in Bogotá learning how to teach English along with 300 of Colombia’s other newest teachers. It’s quite a lifestyle change — and it was all inspired by my work at CourseTalk.


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Mentorship and micro-courses make MOOCs interactive

When MOOCs – massive open online courses – first made headlines, it was partly their size that attracted the media’s attention. One-hundred thousand students in one course, 150,000 in another. But massive doesn’t work for everyone. In fact, it doesn’t work for most people, as seen in precipitous drop-out rates over the run of most courses. Now innovators in the world of online learning are creating micro experiences for MOOC students, including small-group mentorship and limited size courses. What they’re learning could hold the key to realizing the transformative potential of MOOCs.

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